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Lockdown but not rundown

Coping with stress

"The Covid crisis has alerted many communities to problems of social isolation which can be very stressful for people living alone," says Jill Bell. "This new awareness has clear benefits for people who have received help or even just the offer of help, and also for the givers who have made new connections in the community and been of real use. All good for mental well-being."

Natural remedies for stress support include:

  • Rhodiola rosea – an adaptogenic herb that has been shown to improve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue and stress-related burnout.
  • Ashwagandha – shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
  • L-theanine – can promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  • B complex vitamins – these consist of all eight B vitamins which contribute to improved mood and reduced stress levels.

The last few months have been unprecedented in their effect on our health in this country," says Gerald Colfer of health store Only Natural in Wexford town. "Few have avoided emotional stress or the physical side effects that come with it as the pandemic played itself out all around us. Meanwhile health store staff all over Ireland have been recommending coping strategies and health boosters to mitigate against the worst effects that the situation could throw at us."

Digestion & tummy troubles

"When a person is anxious their digestion often gives them trouble," says Jill Bell of health store Well and Good in Midleton, Co Cork. "This isn’t surprising when you know that the vagus nerve connects brain and abdomen from before birth, so supporting the nervous system and maybe the adrenals can hugely help digestive issues."

Natural support for stomach support includes:

  • Probiotics – strains of bacteria that help to balance your intestinal system.
  • Prebiotics – specific types of fibres that feed the good bacteria in your gut. Foods such as Jerusalem artichoke, garlic and onions, are prebiotic foods
  • Digestive enzymes – help break down the macronutrients in your food.
  • Slippery elm extract – soothes the digestive tract.

Dealing with depression

"If your mood is low omega-3 essential fats, saffron and zinc have all been found to be beneficial," says Gerald Colfer. "Gentle exercise, meditation and mindfulness have also shown benefits for those suffering from the effects of stress or depression. Vitamin D helps our mood, immune system and aids absorption of calcium."

"Bright long sunny days are a great antidote to low mood, and so is vitamin D which our skin absorbs from sunlight. We also recommend combinations of B vitamins, magnesium and rhodiola," says Jill Bell. "Getting out and about as we are now allowed to do, taking regular walks, and breathing the wonderful fresh air are good for body and soul."

Improving your immunity

"Some customers have good reason to be anxious," says Jill Bell. "They look for immune support first and foremost, which explains why vitamin C has been popular along with vitamin D, zinc and selenium. Echinacea, astragalus and kyolic garlic are our top selling herbs, followed by olive leaf, oregano oil and elderberries, and since the immune system is largely based in the gut probiotics are always in demand."

"Vitamin D is invaluable for immune boosting and has many other properties including all-important mood regulation," says Gerald Colfer. "Vitamin C is a well-known immune booster and the super absorbable lyposomal version of the vitamin is your best option. Zinc is critical for the functioning of immune cells, so a supplement should be considered if you feel you might be lacking. Beta glucans, found in several types of mushrooms 'modulate' the immune system. Herbs beneficial both to boost immunity and to directly fight pathogens inlude echinacea, elderberry, oregano and garlic.”

Better sleep

Problems with sleeping have been a very common result of the Covid 19 pandemic and lockdown. "Magnesium, among many other benefits, is a muscle relaxant and helps us to sleep better and feel calmer," says Gerald Colfer. "L-theanine, an active ingredient in green tea, promotes relaxation without drowsiness and can be used to unwind and sleep better. Herbal aids to a better night’s rest include valerian, lemon balm and Californian poppy and they can be taken in the form of teas, tablets and tinctures."

Anxiety help

"Many customers can cope well, but some internalise stress," says Jill Bell. "Flower essences or rescue remedy can safely be offered to both adults and children. We find products containing l-theanine and magnesium really helpful for a lot of customers, and by relaxing both the nervous system and muscles people sleep better and this renews energy and makes daily challenges much easier to deal with."

"If the situation is making you anxious you don’t have to suffer in silence," says Gerald Colfer. "Magnesium, l-theanine and valerian can help to take the edge off nervousness. Also helpful is ashwagandha which reduces cortisol, the fight or flight hormone that keeps us in a state of heightened tension. B vitamins, in particular, can be a real help, as well as zinc, magnesium, l-theanine or passionflower and omega oils."

Maintaining energy

If you find you’re lacking in energy try these natural helpers:

  • CoQ10, or coenzyme Q10, is a nutrient that your body's cells require to produce energy. CoQ10 is present in fish, meat and nuts.
  • Vitamin B12 helps transform the food you eat into energy for your body’s cells. It is found in animal proteins, such as meat, fish and dairy products.
  • Iron is required by red blood cells to transport oxygen to your body’s tissues.

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